SCATTING is vocal improv that uses nonsense syllables that imitate a Jazz instrument. You get to focus on noise, melody, and tone only! How freeing! Start by listening to great Scatters like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Kurt Elling for inspiration. Then, try singing along with melodies, but without singing the words. Instead use syllables like "SKI", "DO", "BEEP", and "WAH" - all sounds that imitate Jazz instruments. Once you've mastered Scatting with the melody, try Scatting along with the instrumental parts. Let your vocals imitate the melody, rhythm, and tone of the instrumental solos. With practice, you'll eventually start creating your own Scat solos! Remember - Scat singing is NOT about perfection. It's about getting into the groove and being creative. So, don't let Scat singing scare you or make you feel silly. Instead, start SCOODOOTIN' your way to Scatting success!
"Treat others how you want to be treated." Definitely. But, do you treat YOURSELF the way you treat others? Among aspiring artists, the quality of SELF-compassion can be especially neglected. Maybe you rehearsed a song 1000 times perfectly, but then felt like you blew it on audition day. What is your reaction? Instead of dwelling on your shortcomings or beating yourself up - imagine what you would say to someone else in that situation. Chances are, your would tell them that it's going to be OKAY! There's often a discrepancy between what we know we're capable of and how we actually perform when the pressure's on. The best way to bridge this gap is to reduce the unneeded pressure - which is often SELF-induced. Learn to be kind to YOURSELF just like you would be kind to other artists!
We often forget that casting directors WANT us to succeed at auditions! In the back of our minds we think, "They don't want me"..."They don't like how I sound"..."I'm wasting their time." It's important to remember that casting directors DO want you to succeed because their job DEPENDS on it. They would LOVE to have too many amazing singers to choose from. This just means that their production is going to prosper since they've found droves of wonderful people for its success! You only have a couple minutes to show who you are and what you've got. Will you allow negative thoughts to take over? Or, will you walk into that room believing that your gifts and your JOY are in high demand? If you remember that you are WANTED - you'll start to change your energy and confidence in the audition room!
Maybe it's time to get out there! Are you eager to start performing as a soloist or in a band, but unsure of how to transition from singing in the shower or karaoke to gigging professionally? One great starting place is to attend Open Mic Nights! They are often held at restaurants, taverns, halls, and bistros and allow singers and musicians to get onstage and perform together. Some are rather informal, while others are highly organized and require performers to schedule a time slot to get up and sing. Not only can these settings provide great performance practice with a live audience, but they're also an ideal way to network with other singers and musicians. Maybe it's time to get out there!
Vocal Exercises don't necessarily improve the voice. What? HERESY! Yet, it's true. It's not the Vocal Exercise, but instead the PRECISE Vocal Exercise that creates the results you seek. It's practically useless to practice Vocal Exercises by rote. As the saying goes: "Practice doesn't make perfect - PERFECT practice makes perfect." This is especially true in singing! Make sure you aren't doing your vocal exercises without understanding their specific purpose. If you don't understand WHY you're doing the exercises you're doing, find a great Voice Teacher who can help provide exercises and concepts that pinpoint specific needs of your style and technique. If you don't have access to private instruction, make sure you at least examine what each exercise that you work on FEELS like. Practice PRECISELY and you'll get PRECISELY where you want to be!
The LYRICS are the obvious way to find out what a song is about, what action you should be played, or who you are singing to. However, what many singers forget is that the ACCOMPANIMENT gives clues too! Often the composer offers extra insight into the character and acting through the music. The next time you're listening to a song - listen to the Accompaniment exclusively. See if you can find the emotional journey of the character via the music. Ask yourself: how does the Accompaniment enhance the journey? What do the rhythm, dynamics, harmonies, and flow tell you? Chances are - it's A LOT. Next time you're singing a song, take the time to listen to how every part of the song works together to tell a story. Your performance will most definitely be richer, more honest, and more exciting!
What's your FAVORITE Vowel? Chances are, when you vocalize, you feel like a CHAMP on certain Vowels when you sing High Notes. Odds are - those MAGIC Vowels are "EE" as in "Geese" or "OO" as in "Choose"? There's an explanation for this! "EE" and "OO" are what are known as Closed Vowels. Closed Vowels employ more Head Voice than Chest Voice. This makes it easier to sing higher. Most likely you find a wide Open Vowel like "AH" as in "MAMA" much more difficult to sing on higher notes. That's because without modification, Open Vowels employ too much Chest Voice to be sung at too high of a pitch. If you struggle with this, try closing the "AH" to an "AW" as in "Hawk" or "AHWN" as in "Honk" to make your "AH" more High Note-friendly. Soon, you'll be welcoming Open Vowels into the ranks as some of your new FAVORITE vowels!
What do all successful singers have in common? They are all FAILURES! It's true! Anybody who has reached a high level in their craft or in the industry has found a way to be comfortable with failing. This doesn't mean that they enjoy it or that it's fun. But, it means they understand that failure is actually the best way to succeed. This is true when we learn, when we audition, and when we perform. Learning to sing requires us to experiment with a whole lot of "ugly" sounds that are necessary to make the "pretty" ones. Auditioning takes a whole lot of NOs before you get a YES. Performing involves a lot of hit-or-miss risks before you develop the bravery to know that you can do anything. So, stop thinking of how to be successful as a singer. Start FAILING like the pros!
Want to sing powerful high notes with more freedom? Then LEAN BACK! Okay, so maybe posture from "The Matrix" movie isn't ideal for singing, but THINKING about leaning back can really help. Singing high with Chest Voice and Chest Dominant Mix can sometimes cause your beautiful, tall singing posture to wilt and weaken. The upper abdominals tighten, the shoulders slump down, the neck collapses, and the jaw thrusts forward. Instead of letting that forward pull get the best of you, use a gentle BACKWARDS LEAN to counter these tendencies. Glide your head back, bring the ears over your shoulders, and softly tug your shoulders back and down. LEAN BACK and you'll notice that your voice instantly GOES FORTH!
Use your inhale to SET UP your vowels! Each vowel creates a unique pattern of resonance and a unique airflow pathway. So why not breathe in the shape of the vowel you're about to sing? This saves you time and energy because when you're ready to exhale, your instrument is already in the perfect position. You won't have to use that precious moment between inhaling and exhaling to get your entire vocal apparatus into the right position. Practice this on all different vowels by making the shape of the vowel first, then inhaling, and then singing. When it comes to breathing and resonance - it always helps to be prepared!
You've got TWO Options. Option 1 - hold back the breath with the VOCAL FOLDS. Option 2 - hold back the breath with BODY. When we take an inhalation into our ribs and belly, we've taken an ideal singing breath. From there, though, the difficulty often begins. Sending air too forcefully towards the vocal folds causes tension and strain. With Option 1, the vocal folds and the larynx will have to hold back this air. With Option 2, the muscles of the torso create resistance so that the air doesn't exit the body too quickly. This assures that the vocal folds receive their small, steady stream of air. "Breath Support" like this allows them to vibrate freely and naturally without bearing the brunt of the breath's force. Efficient airflow leads to great control of your voice. From there, you won't just have TWO Options. You'll have INFINITE Options!
To develop your personal singing style, turn to your natural ACCENT! Different languages and dialects vary not just in vocabulary, but also in word stresses, inflections, and speaking attitudes. Southern American accents often linger on long vowels longer than standard American accents. Spanish vowels are brighter and farther forward than Russian vowels. Most Italian consonants have a lighter touch than the throatier sounds in German or Hebrew. Some cultures encourage louder speaking than others, while some regions use faster talking speeds. How do your natural tendencies make certain songs easier or more challenging? How can your accent make your approach to songs unique? Start considering how your ACCENT can inform your vocal style!
"He's got a big voice!". "She sounds so powerful!". Think of the biggest, strongest, fullest voice you've ever heard. Now consider this: the human Larynx is only about the size of a dime or quarter! The vocal folds of an adult are 18 to 23 millimeters long - not even one inch! It's a wonder something so small can produce a huge range of sounds of all kinds: singing, laughing, shouting, crying, cheering, beat boxing, etc. So mighty is the little Larynx that it can produce sounds that can be heard over an entire orchestra. So, the next time you're feeling small and defeated as a singer - remember that the most fantastic feats are often accomplished by the littlest heroes. And the unlikeliest underdog, the strongest sounds, and the greatest victories are already inside you!
Are you LISTENING to yourself when you sing? If so, then STOP! "Wait. What?!" Yes. It's true! You can't LISTEN to yourself and sing well at the same time. This doesn't mean to sing off-key or to throw pitch and musicality out the window. It means that listening to ourselves puts us in a physical and mental state that isn't conducive to our best sounds. Physically - the body and breath lock up when we listen really hard. Mentally - we get into a judgmental, critical, and analytical mindset when we listening really hard to ourselves. Singers who listen too hard to themselves often sound contrived, planned, and stiff. Instead of listening - try trusting your ears. Your audience will do the listening! You can do the TRUSTING!
"SHHH!!! I'm Riffing!" One of the best tactics for getting your Riffs precise and clean is to rehearse them QUIETLY. When we sing loudly, our entire voice mechanism works a little harder. The vocal folds are thicker and typically more compressed. We use a little more air pressure and the muscles that stabilize the voice also are more engaged. These conditions are NOT ideal for successful and agile Riffing. So, for practice purposes, try reducing your volume. The vocal folds will be thinner, the air pressure will dimininish, and the musculature will relax â€" PERFECT Riffing conditions! Once you've learned your Riffs quietly and incrementally (oh, so slowly!), then you can increase your volume closer to where you'd like it!
In the female voice, there is a major Passaggio (or transition) that occurs between D5-G5. Males sing these notes less often, but will also will notice the same phenomenon these pitches. At this part of the voice, singers usually benefit from a slight opening of the mouth if they are seeking a stronger sound. This opening aids the strength of First Formant (F1) resonance. Either a slight jaw opening or a small widening of the lips typically helps this resonance to intensify. In general, we don't want to open up the mouth or spread the lips to sing higher notes. Instead, we should learn to sing them with a neutral mouth first. But, if you're seeking more power through this particular Passaggio, try letting Acoustics work for you!
Struggling with tension on a difficult phrase of a song? Try looking at the BIG PICTURE! We often get hung up on all the little parts of a difficult phrase: so many words, so many notes, so many leaps... it can feel very overwhelming! Try shifting your focus to the full ARC instead. What is the contour or shape of the phrase from start to finish? Does it end higher or lower than where it began? What is the meaning of the full sentence you are singing? Following BIGGER ideas in your mind while you sing helps you flow through the little details that are often much easier than they seem focusing full attention on them. So if you have a scary, tension-creating phrase - try stepping back and looking at the BIG PICTURE!
If a song isn't right for you, find out WHY. Many of us have songs in our books that we love to sing, but that teachers or casting directors say "just aren't right for you." When this happens, be sure to ask your listeners WHAT about the song makes them feel that way. Is the problem technical: the song highlights an uncomfortable part of your voice or doesn't allow you to show off your best vocal skills? Maybe it's emotional: the song may seem downtrodden when your natural energy is more buoyant. Or, perhaps the song has a worldliness that your innocence seems to work against. However true or false this feedback may feel to your personal instincts, it can help you learn a lot about yourself as a performer and guide you to material that absolutely IS right for you!
The change in seasons can wreak havoc on the singing voice. Many singing journeys are plagued with colds, congestion, and sore throats. To combat these symptoms, make sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day. At night, try sleeping with a cool mist ultrasonic humidifier during the fall and winter months. Place the humidifier close to your bed. This will make a significant difference in minimizing dry throat symptoms and is also great for your skin. Stay hydrated, stay humidified, and get your vocal beauty sleep. The weather may be getting colder, but no cold can stop your best singing from happening in any season!
How do your notes END? The way we finish our phrases is called an OFFSET. Offsets can often affect the rest of the phrase more than we think. Are you holding the note as long as it's supposed to be held? Are you holding it TOO long? Notice the qualities of your Offset. Does the note get softer and fade out? Maybe you flip registers or your vowels get rounder as you reach the end of your phrase. Alternatively, maybe the notes get cut off sharply with a little kick of breath. All of these qualities are just fine if used in the right contexts. However, if you find yourself struggling with a particular song or phrase, pay attention to how the phrase ends. The problem may be hiding there. As a wise man once said - all's well that ENDS well!
"Am I too old to sing?". This is a question asked by 17-year olds. This is a question asked by 30-year olds. It's asked by 50-years olds. And, by 70-year olds. But, if it's a question that virtually everyone seems to ask themselves, then there's something wrong with the question. Singing is meant for all to enjoy and to succeed at regardless of their age. It's actually quite reasonable to sing into one's NINETIES very beautifully! Often society puts pressure and expectations on people of all ages regarding what they "can" or "cannot" do. So, you have two options. You can listen to those pressures and stay silent. Or, you can dare to "Make A Joyful Noise!". If you do, it will keep you forever YOUNG!